In the last of a burst of tournaments that saw South Dublin Taekwondo (SDTKD) athletes travel to Germany, Sweden, USA and finally Bulgaria, the Olympic Taekwondo Club based in the Arena, Tallaght attended the Sofia Open which has now become an annual fixture. In the advanced ranking event tournament, SDTKD’s two most prolific fighters Emma Cahill & Jack Woolley secured further ranking podiums adding to their thrilling start to 2020. On the Saturday Emma had 4 contests to secure a well earned bronze medal, including matches against; Serbia’s Elena RADIVOJEVIC which finished 30-7, an 18-12 victory over Greece’s Stefania Indra, a quarter final win over Greece’s Sotiria TSINTSINOU and finally bowing out of the semi final in a drab 0-2 loss versus Serbia’s Nina STOJANOVIC adding another medal to her growing collection. Jack Woolley continued his form off the back of last weeks gold success at the US Open with a further gold and valuable maximum ranking points with matches including; a bye in the round of 16 as he was 1st seed, In the quarter final a disciplined 23-1 defeat of Christos Danilfis of Greece set up a semi final bout with a lively Albanian Adieni Bajrami where the match was stopped mid way through the second round at a personal record score line of 68-4, the match stopped as the Albanian had amounted 10 fouls during the contest leading to automatic disqualification. The final was against Grand Prix fighter Dionysios Rapsomanikis of Greece. After taking a 15-0 lead after round 1, Woolley eased off for the remainder of the match which ended 18-7 to the Tallaght native who secured his second ranking gold is as many weeks. The duos team mates David Phelan & Ryan Doyle we’re unable to make their desired impact both finishing outside the coveted medal position in their Junior -55kg & -63kg divisions, and first time cadet every Shauna Farrell secured a 5th finish in -47kg cadet female with some useful ranking points to assist her later in the year.
Also the Sofia Open World Ranking event, in parallel ran a non ranking event which was suitable for developing up & coming athletes. The event was ideal for SDTKD to bring along some of their future hopefuls to gain the experience of travelling alongside their experienced team mates. The ‘no head contact’ event saw 8 athletes come away with memorable experiences, all 8 of whom took home silverware including gold medals being achieved by James McGovern, Kate McGovern, Sean Byrne and Jacqueline Rosales, a silver was secured by Lisabeth Mahesh and her siblings Steve & Anna took away bronze medals along side Shae Yambao who also achieved 3rd Place. SDTKD were delighted to be awarded best team in the cadet age event. The weekends event coaching was overseen by SDTKD Coaches Robert Taaffe, Niamh Buffini & Jack Woolley all of whom were busy throughout a long weekend with many bouts under their guidance. Coach Taaffe noted, ‘Sofia is the only event on the ranking calendar that has an event alongside for developing athletes. It has now become an annual event for our club as we have seen first hand the benefits of our up & coming athletes having the chance to travel with the experienced team, and with a couple of hard fought ranking medals they seemed to really relish the experience.’ ‘We have had a good burst of events now in recent weeks, and now it’s time to assess the positives & critically appraise any potential negatives to continually improve for events after a bit of time away from the competition arena. Overall we are delighted with much progress, but there are always margins and improvements we can try to make for the bigger events later in the year.’